Friday, 30 May 2014

Ooty Diaries Part - 2

      Yes it has been very long, but I am sure you guys completely understand, like every damn time :D oh you wonderful people you. So back to my amazing vacation. Post my two days in Coimbatore, we took to Ooty. First thing, the weather in Ooty was blissful. As compared to Mumbai's scorching heat, Ooty was a breath of fresh, cool air. Ooty is that small quaint town, which is buzzing with population because of the ongoing vacations, full of small homely bakeries, home made chocolate stores and easily available brussel sprouts! (No, I am not weird. Just that where I live, brussel sprouts are difficult to find)  I was there for 3 days, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. :) 

       The road journey itself from Coimbatore to Ooty was brilliant. Miles and miles of green tea estates. We stopped at this cafe called Orange Pekoe. Honestly, I don't remember the last time a simple mug of hot coffee and toast with butter was so soul satisfying. 

Now, like last time I'm going to take you through my vacation through the pictures :D . My idea of seeing a new place, is on foot with a camera with some good company. This is going to be a compilation of all my three days, in no particular order.
 So here you go -

Pretty flowers outside my hotel :)

Fresh green tea leaves, when I went to visit a tea factory. Anyone else who can't tolerate Nilgiri Green? I'd take Darjeeling green over it anyday .


Gorgeous tea estates

The first rains of the year

 One little piece I had to do was about this lovely chocolate shop in the commercial market, called Jai's King Star. This shop has some great history and is a family business being carried out by the third generation. They have the most amazing array of chocolates. Vivek, who is the proprietor of Jai's King Star, told me that they actually procure their cocoa pods from Kerala and process the raw chocolate themselves. They also make fudges. Along with a wide variety of chocolates, the usual ones like rice crispies, truffle, fruit & nut, marzipan etc to the other delicious but not frequently found coconut filled ones, bonbons, black current, cranberry etc. (p.s. My absolute fav was the caramel filled one) . I actually visited their shop twice because I finished the first batch I had bought. Impressive fact - Their products don't have preservatives and yet have a very long shelf life. They also courier chocolates to major cities. If you are ever in Ooty, you must make a pit stop there. 

A Part of my chocolate haul

A better display :P 

 Below is everything that made my vacation absolutely worth it :) Talking about chocolate overdose, there is a chocolate museum where I laid my hands on 70% dark chocolate. Yum. 

Buttered masala steamed corn. Delicious snack in the cold winters of Ooty. Perfect to carry around while wandering the streets :)

Here I discovered something new called Sukka coffee.. which is basically coffee with a little bit of ginger. Nice no?

One big regret - on my way to see Coonoor, I happened to see this place called the McIver Villa. It looked so absolutely beautiful that I totally wanted to stop there and go check the place off. But sadly I couldn't. I checked them out on TripAdvisor and it looks just as amazing as I imagined. So if anyone has been there, please let me know about your experience. 

Lots of other bits - like the amazing Varkey (local baked item - very much like our khari - somewhat), litres and litres of excellent filter coffee, not finding fresh vanilla beans, lip smacking south Indian fare, overdosing on chocolate, shopping for my year's supply for Darjeeling green tea - from the place that produces Nilgiri tea :P  Also, just as we were leaving, our road was blocked by a wild Bison - wildlife native to Ooty. What a magnificent and intimidating creature. That was like the perfect ending :) All in all, it was one of those vacations, that leaves you mildly happy, calm, humming songs your way back home. Thank you for being such a hospitable place Ooty and Coimbatore :)

Lastly, I hope you enjoyed my vacation through my eyes. Do drop in a comment and tell me what you think :)

Until next time,

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Ooty Diaries Part - 1

   No holiday season is complete without a little outing. And specially because I am going away soon, the family and I decided to take a short 5 day excursion to the Southern part of India - to the city of Coimbatore and the hilly town of Ooty.
   Two hours of flying, starting from Mumbai and we landed in the city of Coimbatore. I must say I was thoroughly surprised. I had not expected it to be such a big and well developed city. The sights and sounds enveloped me from the minute I landed. A rather busy place with innumerable jewellery, clothing and food stores. This one looked like a promising place for a foodie. Below I am trying to show you my trip in pictures. Because honestly, who wants to type so much :P Don't worry - all the details in the captions.
Buying Colourful Silk Sarees at Sree Devi Silks 

Complete south indian meal - Unlimited lunch at Annapoorna restaurant (Lakshmi complex)
Mango ice cream with fruits for dessert and paan as a post lunch mouth freshner

Delicious filter coffee - Annapoorna 
People like me who have an inherent love for south Indian food, this was of course a paradise with pillow soft idlis and crispy thin dosas and big thermos flasks full of good, strong filter coffee. the fragrance of sweets being made in pure ghee was wafting through every second street. Yum!
I spent a good two days here. Roaming the streets, trying to understand the language. One fair word of warning - the autorickshaws here donot run metered fare. They extort any amount they feel like - from 50 to 100 INR even for the shortest distance. Also another thing that took my fancy was the jewellery they had. Beautiful pieces, whether gold or partial silver with delicate designs. Of course, I did pick a few of them up.

The next part of my vacation was in Ooty, which will be the next post!

Until next time,
Cheers :) 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Some bits and bobs and a lot of glitter.

   I know the header doesn't sound like it is a food related post. But I promise you it is. This one is all about the itty bitty things, and events that happened, that made my month so enjoyably busy and so full of fun and glitter (yes, glitter equals happiness).
   It started off with the best thing - my exams got over. I will be graduating this summer :D and will be packing my bags off to my dream college, where I will be pursuing my dream career and attending my dream course.  :) I know it sounds perfect, trust me, its surreal for me too.
    Coming to the events -  First in the month , Sula released the first ever grape- seed oil In the Indian market. Along with some brilliant nutritional value, the oil adds a unique taste to the dish. It is light - with a high smoking point and very earthy and warm undertones running through it. I was fortunate enough to attend the demonstration they had for the same at the Good Food Kitchen, Mumbai And giving us the demo were none other than Chef Amit Pamnani and Chef Kainaz Messman. Chef Amit taught us a variety of dishes - salads to stir frys (Shall be putting up the recipes soon) and Chef Kainaz (of Theobroma) taught us how a dash of grapeseed oil can spunk up even desserts. It would be pretty safe to say that Sula, being our own Indian company, is all out to give canola and even olive oil some tough competition. You can read all about the product here.

Then suddenly, SugarRushes's Facebook page hit a 100 likes!! I was absolutely over the moon. What an amazing feeling :D. You can check our Facebook page out HERE.

   Following which, my absolutely favourite series, Masterchef Australia has started its 6th season. This is the only series on tv that I actually, religiously watch. To add to the already esteemed jury, Kylie Kwong - the reigning Queen of Cantonese food is going to be a regular mentor on the show. This excites me way too much! I simply can't wait to see which Zumbo challenge is going to make an appearance. For the new ones on the block - I am referring to the challenge that is put forth almost every year by the Grand Wizard of Pastry - Adriano Zumbo. He has a reputation of setting the most difficult pastry challenges - from the dreaded Croquembouche (French profiterole wedding cake) to his signature V8  cake. Masterchef Australia never fails to remind me, in each and every episode, why I fell in love with the kitchen and cooking. (Picture Courtesy - The TenPlay Website)

   The Indian Food & Beverage industry is now thriving. Almost every other week some or the other new food/ beverage brand is releasing its products into the market. No exception to this is the famous Monster energy drinks. They promise a lot more energy in a bigger can, at a better price - seems like a good combo no? I still havent tried this and shall let you know as soon as I do.

   Also on the 5th of this month was Cinco De Mayo - which literally translates into "the fifth of May" and is a celebration to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy and the unlikely win of the Mexican army over the French. In the Mexican states, it is as important as their Independence day. So, the Mexican restaurant - Chili's (in Powai), had a 3 day extravaganza to celebrate this. Along with their stadium menu for the IPL season, they were offering free tequila shots on the occasion of Cinco De Mayo. The also had their staff wearing colourful Sombreros (the Mexican hats) and had a live singer perform!! We had a brilliant time. Fun ambiance, great food and fantastic live entertainment makes for nothing short of a perfect evening.

   Lastly,I have two extremely interesting things coming up which shall be revealed, when the time comes. So until then, keep cooking :D


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cafe Infinito

         Yautcha's sister brand, Cafe Infinito is the newest thing in town, having opened hardly a few months ago (13th of March 2014) at BKC, Mumbai, And I was super excited to go there with my co blogger to see what they had to offer. Cafe Infinito has replaced Otto Infinto which used to serve Mediterranean cuisine.
         We were welcomed warmly by the staff and lead to our tables.  The first thing that struck us was the ambiance. A very casual atmosphere with light music playing in the background, well planned lighting and spaced out seating to ensure privacy for guests. The operations in-charge, Chirag was there to talk us through about the cafe  and the changes they have introduced. Very rarely have I seen such a pleasant and happy person! It was really nice having a little chat with Chirag and knowing about how things have been changed from Otto Infito to Cafe Infinito. Also, they have really nice offers on during the current IPL season. So if you are looking at having a few drinks along with some delectable food and enjoying the match on the big screen, this place is an excellent option. Another important thing that we noticed was, that the rates are extremely reasonable. It was pleasantly surprising because considering it is Yautcha's branch, I had expected some heavy digits to the right of the menu card.

           Our server for the evening was Sushant who for the beginning, suggested that we try their signature Lemon and Lime milkshake. After a lot of convincing, as we simply dint trust milk with lemon (for obvious reasons) we gave a nod. Vipasha was the brave one to try that and I went safe with a chocolate and coffee frappe. In Vipasha's words - the lime and lemon milkshake was a pure mixing genius. The shredded lime zest added the perfect amount of textural difference without the slight bitterness that is usually associated with zest. It is refreshing, considering the heat right now and quite filling. The best milkshake I've ever had!... Yes, even better than chocolate! 
       My chocolate and coffee frappe was just perfect. Sweet enough to satisfy my sugar craving and not too much to make it cloying. Deliciousness in a glass. I duff my hat to their wonderful bartender Colette, (I hope I got her name right .. :P Sorry, if I haven't). Along with killer bartending and mixing skills, she was such a warm person! :)

              The first course was soups. We completely left our meal selection to Sushant, and he didn't disappoint. Perfect combinations that suited both our palettes. I had the Minestrone Genovese with a slice of crispy bruchetta. It was served with a dollop of pesto and some grated cheese. Deliciously cubed vegetables in a tangy tomato base. The portion size was perfect. A bread basket that had a variety of breads - soup sticks and buns accompanied the soups. A special mention to the beautifully piped herbed butter. These small details are what make the dining experience memorable. :)  The non vegetarian one was the White Bean, Chicken and Spicy Polenta soup. Polenta is a type of cornmeal boiled into porridges.The soup had a rough texture. The polenta was very soft and made into tiny cubes to accompany the shredded chicken.

               Coming to the appetizers. I was served some Antipasti - Basil Gnocchi tossed in some Harissa sauce. Any Italian food lover will tell you that it was absolutely gorgeous. Smooth basil infused Gnocchi in fiery red Harissa. Lots of punch packed in the bite sized gnocchi. The other was the Balti spiced Chicken Skewers and homemade aioli. The first +1 for the fact that the pieces were roasted and not fried, and the second +1 for the best aioli in the world. The chicken was soft and not chewy and the aioli made me want to ask the chef for its recipe.

                For the mains, I had Crepes Stuffed with Ratatouille in a creamy saffron sauce. I enjoyed this dish way too much, because finding crepes that dont smell eggy and yet taste divine, is a rarity. Add well cooked and the subtle flavours of the ratatouille along with the rich saffron sauce topped with crunchy microgreens. Perfect. My friend ordered the all time favourite Chicken Lasagna, which had the tangiest tomato sauce and was bursting with cheese. They do offer a beef version as well.

               Both of us were too full to even finish the generous portions they serve. But you must be well aware that nothing can keep a girl away from her dessert. :D Their range of desserts is select, yet sinful. Vipasha had the Belgian Chocolate Cake. The cake rested on top of a large base of vanilla ice cream with a bowlful of nutty toffee - caramel sauce. Even if you aren't a big caramel fan like me, you absolutely MUST give this one a try. The cake is appropriately dense with enough ice cream for every bite and the sauce - something you will feel like eating by the spoonfuls, all by itself.  I had ordered my usual Tiramisu, Good quality - strong espresso with deliciously light and cheesy mascarpone cream and a lady finger on the top :D It was a fitting end to a rather perfect meal.

                   Cafe Infinito has certainly found a loyal customer for a long time to come. I am impressed not just with the food, but the staff, who makes an effort to make you feel welcome. They are open all day, right from breakfast to dinner and have a good Bar too. So go, give this place a shot & I am certain you won't be disappointed. :)

Until Next time,

Cafe Infinito
G Block,
Raheja Tower,
BKC, Bandra East.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Brewberrys Cafe

Helloo there,
                   Since college is on hold due to Prep leave, I seem to have an unnaturally high amount of free time on my hands. And what better than to spend this time exploring new joints opening in and around the place I live. I had already been to Brewberry's Cafe once before and loved it so much that I had to go again, and write about it too.
                  A little research told me that this a chain that was founded in 2008 in Gujarat by some very perceptive hospitality graduates in Vadodara, Gujarat. Since its inception, Brewberrys has expanded and how?! Now it has around 45 stores in 15 states. That, I must say is pretty commendable.
                  Coming back to my experience there, I visited their Seawoods - Navi mumbai franchise. Their menu is wide, offering an array of snacks like pizzas, burgers, wraps, sandwiches - both vegetarian as well as non vegetarian. They also serve several varieties of beverages ranging from hot coffees to iced teas, frappes and milkshakes. The cafe has a very casual and relaxed vibe. They have UNO cards, scrabble, various popular books available for patrons to read whilst waiting for their food, or simply to enjoy your time there.
Business has picked up for these guys, as I had to wait for a good 10 minutes to find a seat. And there were people lining up and waiting for some place - tells you how good they are. They have a self - order placement policy, sometimes their staff takes your order too. Staff is well mannered, polite, smiling and well informed about the menu and what they have to offer.
                   The rates are extremely affordable and the portions they serve are extremely filling. We started off with a Mocha Frappe. Tall glass of cold goodness with ample froth and chocolate.Not too thick which is good, because otherwise it would've been too filling for us to try anything else. This was followed by a portion of potato wedges. And very honestly, it has been very long since I have had such good ones. Well seasoned, appropriately crispy and browned - it made me want to parcel a portion for a mid night snack too. Only problem was that they dint have anything for me to empty my ketchup sachet in :(  though thats just a small problem that wont come in the way of me having my favourite snack!

                     We then ordered a burger each. I ordered a normal veggie burger and my friend ordered a chicken new york cheese burger :) I know, it tasted as delicious as it sounded. My burger was well done, with a crispy patty and a mayo - rich relish at the bottom. One burger and your meal is complete. Full paisa vasool! We were too full to have a dessert, so that part shall be reserved for the next trip! And our overall for the meal came up to hardly INR 500 - (for two) which is very reasonable in my opinion.

So overall,
Food - 9/ 10
Ambiance - 10/ 10
Service - 8/ 10
Value for Money - 9/10

A must visit if you want to hang out with your friends. Refreshing change from our usual cafes.
Here is the address -
The Brewberrys Cafe
10 -11 Dhara Complex,
Sector 44A, Seawoods,
Navi Mumbai.